Can I please get a critique on my personal statement?

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Anonymous User
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Can I please get a critique on my personal statement?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Sep 10, 2020 7:19 pm

Hi guys,

I drafted this, and it felt very personal. I'm concerned that it's maybe a little dark. Can I get some honest feedback from strangers?

When I was five years old, my mother died. My grief at that time was compounded by my father’s decline from our shared loss, after which he plunged into the depths of drug addiction and alcoholism. Compounding my grief and confusion, shortly after my mother’s death, he brought an abusive girlfriend into our home—a woman who seemed hellbent on destroying whatever shreds remained of my ability to trust the world around me.
A neighbor eventually reported the abuse she witnessed in my father’s home to Social Services, which led a social worker to pull me from my second grade class to talk about what was going on. I could not find the words, so I just cried. After this, my paternal grandmother took me into her home, which was better than my father’s, but it was also home to yet another abuser, my grandfather.
The adults around me injured me further by refusing to discuss or acknowledge my claims of abuse. Despite having witnessed it firsthand, my father insisted that I made it all up. The problem, according to him, was not that his girlfriend was abusive, but that I was a spoiled brat who felt insufficiently spoiled in his home and demanded to live with my grandmother who, he felt, treated me like “a princess.” I could not yet grasp that gaslighting is a common tactic of abusers, so I was extremely vulnerable to it. I accepted the conclusions of my father and his girlfriend that I was completely out of my mind, and I withdrew until I was completely isolated.
Following high school, I felt that it was necessary to bolt to a university in New York City, where I thought I would escape the darkness of my childhood, and remake myself into someone so different from my “Redneck” family. At seventeen, I did not yet understand that our psychic wounds follow us, however far we might travel. Trauma requires the hard work of healing to be overcome, not mere escape.
In New York, perhaps foreseeably, I failed. I struggled under the weight of my unresolved trauma. I had long since accepted the hateful narrative propagated by my father’s girlfriend and my grandfather that I was absolutely worthless, and rather than rising to the challenge of university life in a new city far from my troubled past, I succumbed to depression and an eating disorder. Preferring to hide away in my dorm room, I quit going to classes, and I flunked out of college.
I came home from New York seemingly more wounded than I left. My abusers relished my failure, because to them, it proved that I was no better than they were.
To be honest, I am not exactly certain of what propelled me forward after this. I suppose that I have always felt that it was necessary for me to become the first woman in my family to obtain a Bachelor’s degree out of my own sense of allegiance to my mother. My mother, who taught me to count in Spanish and enrolled me at great expense into the best private kindergarten in our county, would have been unable to fathom her daughter just giving up on her education.
Eventually I would defy the parameters set for me by my abusers. I would work as a waitress thirty hours a week for the next five years to get my education—often coming up short for essentials like food and rent. I attended two community colleges, and took courses in an unfocused miscellany of disciplines. At some point, history stuck, and I went on to obtain my Bachelor of Arts in History from ***** University, where I succeeded like I never had before. I earned praise from some professors who encouraged me consider graduate school. My senior thesis was chosen to receive our History Department’s highest award. I was on the Dean’s List every semester, and I graduated Magna Cum Laude.
I suppose that choosing history made intuitive sense for me. Studying history helped me build multiple narratives to help explain the world around me, which had before seemed so volatile and confused. After studying history, I was less prone to idealization of people and places, more skeptical of narratives promoting black and white dichotomies of events, and more comfortable with the difficult, grey realities.
Further, I witness the force of history in the microcosm of my own childhood trauma. My grandfather abused his son, my father, who in turn believed that violence was the normal condition of domestic life. Similarly, my father’s girlfriend learned to abuse from her father.
At some point, I resolved to break this historical cycle. However, I recognize the tremendous and sustained push of personal will that was required of me to break a cycle that so many are seemingly destined to continue. I view those who have been unable to escape it with empathy, and I see my own project in life, as one who has sought through my studies to understand some of the systemic issues that perpetuate unique traumas, to advocate for those who strive with difficulty to move beyond theirs.
This is what I hope to achieve through studying the law.

CanadianWolf

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Re: Can I please get a critique on my personal statement?

Post by CanadianWolf » Thu Sep 24, 2020 11:23 am

Overall, this is an excellent, emotionally powerful, well crafted essay with a weak concluding sentence that leaves the reader confused as to whether your true career aspirations lie in the fields of counseling, psychology, and social work or in the legal field.

At the end of the third paragraph you wrote: "Trauma requires the hard work of healing to be overcome, not mere escape." This is an awkward and confusing sentence. Was it your intent to convey that: "Escape from an abusive environment is not enough to heal one's childhood trauma; the real remedy requires a lifetime of hard work and determination."

"Eventually I would defy the parameters set for me by my accusers." = a very powerful sentence

You concluded by writing: "This is what I hope to achieve through studying the law." This final sentence is constructed poorly and it is neither convincing nor clear as to how the study of law will help society or other individuals deal with their demons.

Consider, in place of your final sentence, asserting that: "I hope that the study of law will furnish me with an analytical approach to issues which can be applied...".

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